the week in LGBTI news
March 9-15, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
7 days in LGBTI news of the world, in a single read
Friday, March 9
Thailand: trans lecturer wins back right to teach at university
A court in Thailand has ordered one of the oldest universities in the country to re-hire a trans person, after it ruled that the reasons not to grant her a lecturer role were illegitimate.
After teaching at the Faculty of Social Administration, Kathawut Krungpiboon had applied for the role of permanent lecturer, but she was denied the position despite passing all of the various selection stages.
Although the court failed to recognise that this may have been a case of discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a member of the National Human Rights Commission was quoted as saying that the case underlined “the rights and equality of people, regardless of their age or gender.”
The ruling gave the university 60 days to sign a contract with the lecturer, as the court dismissed allegations claiming that the rejection was based on some of Kathawut’s posts on social media criticising the lecturer admission process.
Friday, March 9
United States: ‘religious freedom’ bill reintroduced in Congress
The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) has been reintroduced in Congress by 22 Senators, causing an uproar by civil rights organisations who described the bill as “harmful legislation that would legalise state-sanctioned discrimination.”
The bill “seeks to ensure that the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person” acting “in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman, or two individuals as recognized under Federal law, or that sexual relations outside marriage are improper.”
Such a provision could allow individuals, businesses and non-profit to refuse to serve same-sex couples, or unmarried couples, or violate anti-discrimination policies. “Supporters of this legislation are using religious liberty as a sword to hurt LGBTQ families,” said Human Rights Campaign’s David Stacy, “rather than staying true to our long tradition of it serving as a shield to protect religious expression from government overreach."
As NBC News noted, a similar bill was last introduced in the House and Senate in 2015 but did not pass committee hearings.
Monday, March 12
Argentina: trial begins in the murder of trans activist Diana Sacayán
A court in Argentina began hearing oral arguments on the murder of Diana Sacayán, as dozens of persons gathered outside the court to demand for justice.
The trans human rights defender was violently assaulted and murdered in October 2015 when she was only 39 years old. Her long and passionate engagement in the trans movement in Latin America, and her personal commitment for the approval of a law for trans quotas in the province of Buenos Aires, had gained her the respect and recognition of many LGBTI activists worldwide, and led to her election to the Board of ILGA in October 2014.
A 25-year-old man, Gabriel David Marino, is accused of the homicide under three aggravating circumstances: gender-based violence, hate crime on the grounds of gender identity and premeditation, with concurrence of robbery.
“This case is the first one where, from the very beginning, since the scene of the crime, we engaged with a gender-based perspective," Mariela Labozzetta - head of the unit specialized in violence against women and LGBTI people – was quoted as saying.
In the request to press charges, prosecutors alleged that Diana was violently murdered “because she was a trans woman,” and for her involvement in the Anti-Discrimination Movement for Liberation (MAL) and other human rights organisations.
"This trial was long awaited by the community, activists and organizations, and by the whole society", co-chair of ILGALAC Dario Arias was quoted as saying. "An exemplary sentence will mean that there will be a before and an after in the access to justice for trans persons."
Monday, March 12
The 62nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women kicks off in New York
At “a pivotal moment for the rights of women and girls,” the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) opened its 62nd annual session in New York, focusing its efforts on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls.
In her opening speech, UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted how this year’s theme “speaks to our commitment to fight some of the biggest challenges of our time: poverty, inequality, intersectionality and an end to violence and discrimination against women and girls.”
An LBTI Caucus is also present, engaging in various moments of the session and organising a number of side events. The Caucus brings together NGOs and advocates working to advance the inclusion of the rights of lesbians, bisexual women, trans and intersex persons at the CSW, and to raise awareness 0f the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that all women and LBTI people face in all regions of the world. Learn more about the CSW LBTI Caucus
Tuesday, March 13
Australia: Northern Territory allows same-sex couples to adopt children
The Northern Territory has passed a new bill that will grant the legal right to adopt children to de facto and same-sex couples.
The Adoption of Children Legislation Amendment (Equality) Bill 2017 passed through the territory’s sole house of parliament, bringing the jurisdiction in line with the rest of the nation. As OutInPerth noted, same-sex couples in the territory were only allowed to foster and take children into permanent care prior the legislation change but were not eligible to adopt.
“All couples, regardless of marital status or gender, who genuinely want to provide children with a loving, caring and safe home environment, should have the legal right to apply,” Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield said. “Modernising our adoption laws reflect the diversity of Territory families today.”
Tuesday, March 13
Ukraine: human rights defender threatened in court during trial after Women’s march
A human rights defender has been charged with ‘abuse of state symbols’ and targeted both in court and on social media, after a women’s march that she co-organised was attacked by ultra-right radicals, leaving at least seven people injured.
Charges were pressed against Olena Shevchenko – head of Insight, an NGO advocating for the rights of rainbow communities in Ukraine – immediately after the march. Police claimed she violated procedures for conducting peaceful assemblies because of a banner displayed at the march, which was allegedly an ‘abuse of state symbols’. The banner depicted a woman faced with several forms of oppressions: domestic violence, trafficking, religious and ultra-right radicalism.
As Shevchenko appeared in court a few days after the demonstration, a group of ultra-right radicals gathered in and outside court and started threatening her. The presiding judge advised her to not leave the building for security reasons, and law enforcement failed to protect her group.
Unfortunately, threats also continued after the court adjourned, as a far-right group fuelled a hate campaign on social media against the defender.
The trial continued a few days later, when the case was finally closed due to an absence of evidence.
Tuesday, March 13
New platform to report hate crimes launched in South Africa
A nationwide initiative addressing violence against rainbow communities has launched a website to help victims anonymously report hate crimes in South Africa.
The reports will be used to monitor hate crimes and understand where they happen, and survivors can also choose to request counselling or health and legal support.
“The reality is that many victims of LGBT hate crimes are afraid to report incidents. They may fear being forced to come out or secondary victimisation, even from the authorities,” said Lerato Phalakatshela, spokesperson for the Love Not Hate campaign. Through this reporting initiative, “victims can still have a voice, and tell their stories anonymously, while also helping civil society better understand the location, frequency and types of hate crimes.”
A survey conducted in South Africa in 2016 showed that 88% of respondents did not report cases of discrimination they had suffered. 41% of those surveyed also said they knew of someone who had been murdered on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
Protests have been held across Brazil after Rio councillor and human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver were shot dead. Franco, a black lesbian feminist woman, was a prominent voice against authoritarianism and violence in the country.
Two out members of rainbow communities won seats in Congress during the elections that were held in Colombia.
Several events and demonstrations are set to be held in many cities across the Philippines in support of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which is currently stuck in the Senate.
New government data on HIV infections were released in South Korea, showing that more than 45% of new infections were among gay and bisexual people.
Eleven networks and organisations have come together to express ‘deep concern’ over the decision to name San Francisco and Oakland, CA, United States as host cities of the International AIDS Conference in 2020.
A study published in the United States found connections between higher teen pregnancy prevalence among sexual minorities and bullying stemming from sexual orientation-related discrimination.
Thousands of persons took to the streets of Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand to celebrate the city's International Pride Parade.
In Australia, the Law Reform Commission has launched a review of the family law system that will include issues relating to rainbow families.
A lawmaker in Ireland has introduced a bill that would ban so-called 'conversion' therapies.
Legislative initiatives aimed at guaranteeing the right to self-determination of trans people and the protection of the bodily integrity of intersex people are being discussed in Portugal.
The police commissioner and a traditional chief in Delta State, Nigeria pledged to support the efforts of human rights defenders who are working to tackle blackmail and extortion against men who have sex with men.
Two students in Kisii County, Kenya were assaulted by a mob on the grounds of their sexual orientation, and then arrested by a security officer. They were later released and handed over to a counselling department at their university.
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